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Anna Klosterman

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Me and my first charity ride, and with my grandmother in 1964

My grandmother, Dorothy Freudenberg, born in 1915, lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis (an auto-immune form of arthritis) from when she was around 35, so the family historian says. She was diagnosed during a time when there was only a handful of medications that could keep the pain somewhat at bay; but none that could prevent permanent joint damage and deformation. She suffered severe hand and joint deformities. Had many hand surgeries to try and keep her hands nimble enough to perform her passion of sewing.

She introduced me to the art of needlework at the age of 8 years old. I am an avid needlework crafter thanks to her mentoring, and lately have taken up the art of quilting. Ironically, I was diagnosed at age 38 myself with RA. This was a bit of a hard diagnosis to swallow, as I was once an avid ballet dancer and aerobic addict in my youth and early adulthood. I have a first cousin also with another form arthritis called Ankylosing Spondilitis. Interestingly, it appears to have skiped our parents generation.

Thankfully, I live in a time where there are medications available to not only combat the pain, but also combat the cellular joint damage. Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation and dedicated researchers they support, there are dozens of medications, including totally new classes of medications that have the ability to slow or even prevent the progression of the +120 forms of arthritis.

I am still able to enjoy the passion of needlework as long as I restrain from doing too much at one time. My job entails hand strength as well, so I have to watch out how much I use my hand doing my leisure time, so I can have the strength to do my job when it counts.

Why cycling? Why me? I got into cycling with mentoring from my brother, Jim, after recuperating from a horrible ankle fracture that took over a year to heal. The last two years I have up my cycling distance while riding in charity fundraising rides. In 2011, I rode 50 miles for the first time. And in November of 2012, I rode 111 miles! What a great way to boost this AARP age ladyís confidence!

Cycling has given my body the sense of movement that age, along with the issues of my RA, that my body loved during the times of dance and youth.

Along with that sense of freedom, I experienced something else that I can only articulate in retrospect. It was a sense of wholeness, worthiness, and potential. It was the essence of me, unconditionally great, that had nothing to do with my abilities either on or off the bike. Perhaps it was being outdoors in the fresh air, the smell of fresh cut grass, or the feel of the sun on my skin, or even the movement of my body, that triggered the feel good chemicals in my brain. It didnít really matter, riding that bike brought me in touch with my authentic self.

Why me? and why this ride?? Barring any changes in my condition, I hope to become a stronger, more confident cyclist. To prove than even people with RA can do this! To meet wonderful new people who share my passion for cycling and raising vital funds and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation. Together we can win the fight against Arthritis - the #1 cause of disability!

Any donation no matter how small will be humbly appreciated!
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